As one of the big 3 automotive manufacturers this company strives to not only produce the best vehicles possible but also develop internal efficiencies that allow for reinvestment. With a production property of 5.5 million square feet and 5000 employees this Ontario Canada production site is a complex series of processes, people and vendor relations. A century in the making this automaker is constantly monitoring current processes and challenged to uncover both change and recovery initiatives that contribute to the stockholder and ultimately the consumer cost of the vehicle. With over 1800 cars produced and 1200 outgoing trailer shipments everyday staying on top of those strategies can be difficult.
One such problem that was causing an issue in production was the value associated with lost parts. During the productions cycle, totes that contain parts are directed to the assembly stations and then collected for return to the staging LTL carrier and ultimately the tertiary parts manufacturer. What was known through investigation was that in many cases parts are unknowingly left in the transport totes with which they are stored. Believing them to be empty they are picked up by a forklift and loaded to the outgoing staging area. The operator has no way of knowing if the bin is full, empty or partially full because the weight cannot be sensed during handling the material by way of forklift. The only indicator in the process is weather the totes are incoming for assembly or outgoing for return. Investigations assumed that this problem had an impact of approximately $150,000.00 per quarter. With production cycles covering such an expansive area floor scales were out of the question. Asking operators for visual inspection and or creating additional employment to assist in recovery was counter intuitive to a best in class auto manufacturer.
Along side their supplying material handling dealer we were able to work hands on with the engineering team tasked with parts recovery. At first the approach was just to introduce a scale and see if the weight variance would allow the operator to detect differences in weight. Getting a chance to talk with the stakeholders and see the operation first hand allowed us to come up with solutions so simple that it literally does not involve any cognitive interaction with the operator. The ED series SM feature offers both an audio and visual alarm when a weight threshold is reached and provides notification to the driver. There is no button to be pushed or any deviation from the process that is already being done by the operator. In this particular recovery strategy we introduced the SkidWeigh ED2-SM with visual overload warning only. All totes weigh 220 lbs with the individual part weight being 30 lbs. The ED2-SM was calibrated using the empty tote and programmed to flash when the weight exceeded 250 lbs. Instead of putting the tote into the outgoing staging area it was redirected to a parts redeployment area. No additional work was required for departments and or operators and only the bins containing lost parts were checked. Money and time gained.